Drama in Stuttgart, drama at Dortmund, drama at Bielefeld and drama at Leverkusen. There were many storylines at both the top and bottom of the table in the final Bundesliga matchday.
SC Freiburg and RB Leipzig were directly competing for the final Champions League spot. The two clubs were separated by just two points. They will be facing each other next weekend in the DFB Pokal final to try and clinch fourth and final UCL spots.
The situation seemed straightforward on paper. Leipzig needed only one point against Arminia Bielefeld, who was already in the bottom tier. Freiburg had to defeat an inform Bayerleverkusen team with highly-respected stars Patrik Schick, Moussa Diaby.
In the 54th minute, Schick gave Leverkusen the lead. He broke away and found his teammate Lucas Alario to take the lead. Bielefeld and Leipzig were tied at 0-0 at this point. Slowly, the matchday progressed towards an inevitable end until the 70th minute when Janni Sanchez gave Arminia the lead against Leipzig.
There was suddenly a murmur in the BayArena Leverkusen. After the match, Vincenzo Grifo, Freiburg’s midfielder, said that they were aware of the events in the other game. In the 88th minute Freiburg scored Janik Haberer’s goal.
The BayArena was buzzing with Freiburg fans. The Champions League was possible for tiny Freiburg. The answer was no. Leipzig won the Champions League in the 93rd minutes thanks to Willie Orban’s goal. The Breisgau Brasilianer didn’t know about the outcome at that point.
Christian Streich, Freiburg’s head coach, said that they didn’t know Leipzig had equalized. With that in mind, Freiburg threw all its weight into Leverkusen’s box, even Mark Flekken, goalkeeper. Exequiel Palacio scored from the halfway line, and Leverkusen made the most of the empty net to win the game.
Streich was disappointed after the game, despite a great season. Streich stated, “It was difficult following the equalizer because it was all-in.” Despite this disappointment, the coach immediately highlighted the positives. “We came in sixth!” It’s a huge compliment to the team. They gave their all and played an excellent season.
The Pokal will be held next weekend in Leipzig, so Freiburg still has a chance to win silverware. Neither team has won the competition. Some have made the matchup into a clash between two cultures: a small traditional club (Freiburg), and an investor-led club, RB Leipzig.
Hertha Berlin will play two more matches this season, while Leipzig and Freiburg still have one match. Hertha was two points ahead of VfB Stuttgart (16th) at matchday 34.
It looked like they would stay there for the longest time Saturday. Hertha led a Borussia Dortmund team that was lethargic in the 18th minute, when Ishak Belfodil scored. In the meantime, Stuttgart was held to a 1-1 draw at the hands of a Koln team still fighting for a place in the Europa League.
The late drama in Freiburg would see a change in the positions, unlike Leipzig and Leipzig. Dortmund saw Erling Haaland, the future Man City star, equalize for the Black and Yellows. Then, young Youssoufa Mukoko made it 2:1.
In the 84th minute.
Stuttgart was heading to the playoffs for relegation at that point. As in Leverkusen, Freiburg, the Schwaben put everything into Koln’s Box, and, unlike Freiburg, they were rewarded.
Wataru Endo, Stuttgart’s second coach, headed home in the 92nd minute to secure three points that would ensure their safety. The following scenes were dramatic with Stuttgart’s American coach Pellegrino Mattarazzo storming the pitch in celebrations. Fans couldn’t be stopped and players were at the barricades.
Six minutes more were added to the final score, and Hertha was sent to the playoffs against whoever placed third in Sunday’s 2.Bundesliga. Matarazzo stated after the match, “That was pure joy, a wonderful moment and incredible.” “I’m so happy to be there for them. Moments like this are not to be forgotten.”